How to decipher a nutrition label
The advice given by health professionals about high blood pressure often aims to help you adopt eating habits adapted to your needs: “Make sure you reduce your salt intake”, or “Beware of ready-made meals, they are often high in fat and salt”. It is however not so easy to navigate through all the food options available to us and apply these rules. Are we talking about salt or sodium? How do we recognize the quality of a product on the shelf? Here are some tips to make your life easier when you go food shopping.
What is the difference between salt and sodium?
Salt is considered a food, a condiment or an ingredient and is therefore added to dishes. Of marine origin, it is composed of about 40% sodium and 60% chloride.
Sodium, on the other hand, is a nutrient and belongs to the mineral family. Essential for the body, it must be provided by food because we do not produce it. Many foods contain it naturally, in varying amounts.
People with hypertension are advised to limit their salt intake. In absolute terms, this means monitoring sodium levels. However, with some products the amount of salt is indicated, and with others the amount of sodium.
> Our tip: to convert the amount of sodium into the amount of salt, simply multiply it by 2.54.
> Worth knowing: the WHO recommends reducing salt intake to less than 5g per day in order to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
What to look for on a nutrition label
Food packaging contains a lot of information. To get an idea of the nutritional quality of a food product, we advise you to focus on 2 main criteria:
- The list of ingredients, with 2 points to remember
- Its length: the shorter it is, the better! A long list of ingredients often indicates a lot of additives or a high degree of processing.
- The order of appearance of the ingredients: They are classified in descending order of quantity, i.e. those with the largest quantities appear first.
- The nutritional information table
This includes information about the energy and nutrients provided by the food.
- Pay special attention to the amount of salt or sodium. This is particularly important for people with high blood pressure.
- For the other items presented, what counts is the purpose of the product. For a sweet product, check the amount of sugar: it is often added sugar. For a savory product, pay more attention to the fat, particularly saturated fat, which you want to limit, especially in a diet designed to improve cardiovascular health.
The products chosen are therefore important, but don’t forget that a quality diet is also based on balance, diversity and pleasure!